Bank­ruptcy? No idea – all we know for cer­tain is our pride in the jersey

● Samoans de­flect ques­tions about money woes and fo­cus on week­end clash with Scot­land

The Scotsman - - Sports Digest -

After this week’s rev­e­la­tions that the Samoan Rugby Union is bank­rupt, at least ac­cord­ing to the chair­man who dou­bles up as the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter, there was only one ques­tion that Bris­tol lock Chris Vui was go­ing to face re­gard­less of whether the new Samoa skip­per could of­fer any in­sight on the mat­ter.

He couldn’t, or rather, if he could, he wasn’t go­ing to trash his own Samoan Rugby Union in front of for­eign jour­nal­ists who he had only just met. That in­con­ve­nient fact wasn’t go­ing to pre­vent one ques­tion be­ing asked in umpteen dif­fer­ent guises.

So the Samoan Union bank­rupt huh?

“I feel that is not part of our con­cern,” replied Vui. “It is the Union. We have a tight group here and it has not af­fected us at all. That stuff out­side rugby has not af­fected us one sin­gle bit.”

Nev­er­the­less it must be a con­cern?

“We are a unique coun­try,” Vui re­sponded. “A unique band of broth­ers. We may not have the best things, the stuff other unions have, but we have a real good brother­hood. That pride in our jersey means a lot more than any­thing. It means so much to us.”



0 The Samoa squad dur­ing prac­tice on the fields at Pef­fer­mill in Ed­in­burgh ahead of the au­tumn Test against Scot­land to­mor­row.

“That stuff is out of our hands. The pride in our jersey, the re­spect for our jersey is real huge for us. We will al­ways get though the dark times. The brother­hood we have here and the pride in our coun­try and wear­ing the jersey will get us through.

”For now we will do what we do. The other stuff hap­pen­ing is out­with our con­trol. All we can do is rep­re­sent our coun­try as well as we can and play with pride.” Didy­outalk­a­boutit­in­camp? ”No. We are here to try and get our coun­try where it should be rugby wise.”

You get the pic­ture. Still, when the ques­tions fi­nally got around to the rugby, the pic­ture didn’t im­me­di­ately get any clearer with Vui un­sure of to­mor­row’s venue. “Mur­ray­field…isn’t it?”

Still, the fact that Samoa are in a tran­si­tional phase is not in doubt, with a new coach, Fuimaono Ta­fua, along­side a new cap­tain, the pair have work to do.

Two years ago, Samoa con­tested the World Cup as sec­ond seed in Pool B and very nearly beat Scot­land in New­cas­tle be­fore fall­ing 36-33. Fast for­ward to the present and Samoa, ranked ten places be­low the Scots in 16th, have a play-off sched­uled next sum­mer just to reach RWC’19 after fin­ish­ing be­hind Fiji and Tonga in the Ocea­nia qual­i­fiers.

Vui is quite right to point to Samoa’s unique stand­ing in world rugby. The tiny is­lands have pro­duced a string of out­stand­ing play­ers, but, like Vui, most of them are born in New Zealand who get first dibs on the best. Vui him­self played for the Ju­nior All Blacks, although he is proud to lead Samoa even if they are not the force they once were.

“Ob­vi­ously we were up here,” Vui hold his hand high in the air, “a few years ago and we have come back down here,” and the hand drops to sig­nify Samoa’s fall. “Our sole fo­cus is to get our coun­try back to where it should be.”

That will be eas­ier said than done be­cause, even without a slew of first-choice play­ers, the Scots should prove too strong for to­mor­row’s visi­tors. What does Vui ex­pect from Gre­gor Townsend’s team?

“We have had a look at how they play,” says the qui­etly spo­ken skip­per.

“They are a real fit team. It should be an open run­ning game and they will bring phys­i­cal­ity.

“We saw them play Fiji in the last tour and they real- ly brought some phys­i­cal­ity which you don’t see of­ten so we are ex­pect­ing a real open game with real phys­i­cal­ity.”

The cap­tain’s place in front of the me­dia is taken by Toulouse winger Paul Perez who is protest­ing that he has noth­ing to say be­fore he has even sat down.

Perez was the winger who was called back for a foot in touch when about to score a bril­liant in­ter­cep­tion try back in 2012 when Scot­land sneaked a for­tu­nate win in Apia. Re­plays showed his foot was nowhere near the white­wash.

“I am still an­gry about it,” he says with a broad smile on his face. “It [the game] would have been a dif­fer­ent story.”

And then the in­evitable ques­tion – are the union’s money trou­bles a dis­trac­tion?

”No,” Perez replies. “We just do it for the jersey and our loved ones back home…i don’t know what to say.”

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